Flood Buyouts Sought In South River

By Phil Gregory, WBGO News
July 16, 2013

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Robert Smith points to marker showing level of floodwaters from Sandy at his South River home (photo by Phil Gregory)

Governor Chris Christie traveled to Middlesex County today to meet with residents in South River and discuss plans to buy homes that are frequently damaged by floodwaters. 

Christie says the state plans to buy 13-hundred flood-prone homes from willing sellers in areas of New Jersey where Sandy and river flooding caused significant damage.

“We want to get entire neighborhoods out so that we’ll never have to have anybody in a neighborhood like this have to go through this again, and this will allow us to return to flood plains or areas that can handle floodwaters without endangering homes or residences in this town.”

The goal is to demolish the buildings and keep the area as open space.

Robert Smith lives on Water Street in South River. He’s applied for a buyout because he says it's terrible having to deal with floodwaters from the Raritan River that have repeatedly damaged his home.

“It seems like the water is coming higher and higher all the time, but this Sandy capped them all. That did a job. It was really bad. When the high water comes in it does nothing but damage. It looks for cracks and crevices, it looks for your basement, it looks for anything, and it just floods everything out.”

Smith’s wife, Pat, has mixed emotions about the prospect of leaving their longtime residence.

“I brought up four children here. My grandchildren don’t want me to leave here. I just can’t do with the stress with the water. When the water comes in it’s heartbreaking, the cleaning, doing all the work again. I did it too many times already. I can’t do it again.”

Tom Deltz lives on Lee Street in South River. He says his house is 12 feet above sea level but was still flooded by Sandy. He’s not sure if he’ll apply for a buyout.

“I like it here. I’m not sure that they’re going to be able to give me what I need to move out. That’s the whole deal. I think most of us here, we don’t know what they’re offering. Once we know what they’re offering that’s going to tell us yes or no or maybe.”

The governor says the properties included in the buyouts will be assessed at their pre-Sandy values.


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